Colleen Ryan ~ Today we went to hand out water filters to the citizens of Seguin. It is great to be back in Haiti and be with everyone again. It’s great to see the beautiful landscape and, most of all, the wonderful people. Walking through the mountains is always a hike, but being with the Haitian kids who walk with us always helps us keep going. Haiti is a rewarding experience that has so many benefits for everyone, the people and myself. I’m very excited to be back in such a joyful place with spirit beyond compare, and I cannot wait for many more adventures to come on this student trip.
Abby Rakus ~ Today, we handed out water filters to families and explained how to use them. We walked through jungle-like landscapes to get to the people’s houses and through rocky landscapes as well. The people seemed very appreciative of the filters we brought them. Walking through the mountains became tiresome very quickly, yet the purpose of bringing filters to people allowed me to keep walking.The kids kept following us from house to house. I cannot express how thankful I am for this opportunity to be here helping the people of Haiti. In fact, this experience beats the “typical spring break” hands down! The people here are so full of joy and gratitude, despite having less than we do in the States. I’m so excited for the rest of this trip, and to be quite honest, I don’t think I’ll want to leave!
Erin Mangan ~ Today we handed out water filters and put tarps on homes around Seguin. It’s amazing to be back in Seguin with so many wonderful people. Everyone is so nice and the people love to help us when we work. Yesterday we were moving rocks and so many kids came to help us. They would fight over who could carry more rocks. I love it here, and I am so thankful for the opportunity to be able to do this. Mom also loves it here, and acts like she wants to come back:) I am excited to have many more adventures with such happy people. I can’t wait to show you all the pictures I have! I love you, and I can’t wait to see you.
Alyssa May ~ Yesterday we helped a blind man named Roger. We made him a wall to help to avoid flood damage to his house. We met many young kids who came around his house when they saw us there. They had the brightest little smiles I have ever seen. It is amazing to see how happy most of the people here are. Last night we played games with the kids and taught them how to make friendship bracelets. We also put string in people’s hair. Today, we brought water filters to people and explained how to use them. We also put tarps up on a few houses. The weather has been great, and we only had a little rain yesterday. I have learned lots of Creole from the people. Many of the people speak a little bit of English and can tell us words in Creole. I hope to come back home fluent;)) I have fallen a few times, but you know no pain, no gain!!!!
Joey Meighan ~ Coming into Haiti was quite the experience, when we finally landed in Port Au Prince we had to wait at the airport (which seemed less like an international airport and more like what we’d consider a regional airport) there for what felt like hours. When we finally left we packed up all of our luggage (checked and carry ons) into the back of 2 pick up trucks and all the people that didn’t fit into the trucks loaded into 2 SUVs. We then took a short ride through the constant and crazy traffic that are the streets of Port Au Prince. I honestly don’t think there are traffic laws of any sort. Over the past three days in which we traveled I think i have only seen 1 traffic light. After a fun afternoon at the guest house, we had an amazing dinner (my favorite part was the fresh mango). After dinner we proceeded to go up on the roof and watch the sunset and then look at the views of Port Au Prince and the surrounding mountains which at the time I at least thought was one of the most beautiful things I had ever seen. Then we went to bed and woke up bright and early the next day at 7 am. We then realized that over night our room had seemed to dropped to sub-zero temperatures. And again the guest house had whipped up an amazing breakfast for us, and after breakfast everyone packed up and got dressed into more comfy travel clothes as we were told there could be anywhere from a 6-8 hour drive to Seguin from Port Au Prince. Long story short we had a lot of car troubles and ended up having to rent a different truck than one of the ones we had started with, and the maximum 8 hour car drive ended up taking much longer than 8 hours. This is a random thought about our drive but… the interpreter driving our car informed everyone that in one slightly less than 30 mile stretch of mountainous road on the path from Port Au Prince to Jacmel (a city that marked the halfway point in our journey) there were 386 curves in the road, he said he had counted multiple times, and yet I swear there had to be double that. Once the very very very bumpy ride up to Seguin had concluded, we all hopped out of the cars and got a BIG stretch in and then immediately lined up to go to the bathroom. Then yet again we all enjoyed an amazing dinner at the rectory consisting of chicken, fried plantains, and coleslaw (which we couldn’t eat because they wash it with their water which is contaminated with E. coli among other things). We then unpacked and set up for the night, and turns out Jim and I get to sleep in the dining room on cots! Jim wouldn’t stop complaining about how bad his neck hurt, although I thought that the cots were actually quite comfortable. Yesterday we woke up to people brewing about in the dining room which was kind of weird but also nice because we got to ease into waking up. Also I didn’t have to move much to get to breakfast. Our task of the day was to help out a blind man in the village named Roger, but before we set out we took in the amazing views right outside the rectory walls. Once we set out It was about a 10 minute car ride. Then we had about a 5 minute hike to Roger’s house. Getting there was fine but once we actually got there is when the real work began… starting with finding Roger. Once we finally found Roger we started figuring out what exactly we were going to do. Turns out we were building walls to stop water from rushing towards his house and eroding parts of it away which it already had in the past. When I heard this, I really wanted to figure out how on earth we were going to build a wall, but turns out we were building with the rocks all around us. The highlight of the wall building was when I got what had to be a 600 pound rock loose out of the ground and got it to roll about halfway down the hill. Then we got 7 people to carry the rock down to where we were actually building the wall. After the wall was finished we all gathered around it to take a picture of our work with Roger. Once we got back to the rectory around mid afternoon I took about an hour nap and then woke up and starting playing soccer with Jim and all the local kids. Once we were done with that I somehow got into a game with some younger kids(If I had to put a name on it I’d call it “let’s see how many little colored balls the white (blanc) kid can catch.” We then heard the dinner bell, and we all sprinted inside to catch some dinner…
Abby Wila ~ Today after breakfast, we started our journey to give the Seguin people water filters. They were made up of two buckets, one with a string filter and one with a carbon filter.During our car ride, we asked Robinson how to say all the animals in Creole. Here’s a quick lesson: bef=cow, cheva=horse, buik=donkey, posho=pig, cabwee=goat, pol=chicken, muto=sheep, tishie=puppy, gagla=bird, looz=bear, zandolit=lizard, papiyone=butterfly, shen=dog, mimi=car. After about a 20 minute car ride, we walked the trails to find the houses of the people who had previous training of the filter system. When we got to a house, we would set up the system (stack two buckets on top of a chair) and ask the person to explain how to use it. Most of them knew how to do it already, which was really cool to see! We also stopped at one house and saw coffee beans out to dry so of course, being the consumers we are, bought 13 pounds of coffee among all of us. We also met a lady who was making hair oil to sell. She explained how she had to pick the spiky green pods and then leave them to dry out for a day. After that, she would boil them and crush them. Then she would take the oil to the market to sell. We also had our little friends following us again. They were holding our buckets, our hands, and our hearts. (wow that sounds so cheesy but it is so true). On the car ride back, we continued to scream our animal names out of the truck bed. It was so fun. When we got back we got to wash our hair!!! It felt so good!!! Cassidy and I tried the “cooling spray” and it gave us the “post-Haiti glow” (aka oil on our faces). Also, new phrase: cock-a-doodle-don’t. Until tomorrow….
Gina Vicini ~ I won’t go into detail about everything we did today, but instead I will talk about my favorite moment from today. When we were setting up the water filters, once again the kids who were barefoot and not wearing pants had the biggest smiles on their faces. It just shocks me how they are always so happy despite living in poor conditions and not having something like clean water. Another one of my favorite memories from today was when we got back and I sat on the bench with some of the local kids. Half of the time neither of us knew what each other are saying and seems like we are just saying our names over and over again. I cannot wait for Mass tomorrow and seeing more of this beautiful country.
Andie Johnson ~ We began our day with spaghetti for breakfast, yet again, and a readiness to help all of the families. We drove to a small town, and on the way we had a good Creole learning session, and I am now able to say every animal in Creole. We delivered water filters and put tarps on houses, and as we hiked through the mountains to get from house to house, we gained more and more kids along the way. Every kid was so fascinated with what we were doing or wearing, and one moment that stuck out to me was when one of the girls was showing off the colorful hair ties she had gotten from someone in my group. Another highlight from today was when we learned how to make coffee from the coffee beans that were grown by one of the men we met while delivering filters, and we ended up buying 13 pounds of coffee. We also learned the process of how to make hair oil from another woman we met. The culture and the views continue to amaze me, and judging by the experiences that I’ve had, I expect the week to only get better.
Margo Milanowski ~ Today was a day of immersion. We immersed ourselves in the language around us, yelling out the names of animals we know in Creole as we passed them on the bumpy car rides in truck beds. We immersed ourselves in our tasks today, asking villagers questions to ensure they understood the water filtration systems we were giving them. We even bought coffee beans from a man whose family we gave one of the systems. We could see the beans right in front of us, being dried under the hot mountain sun, and the family they came from. I can feel us all opening up more and more to the life around us, so different from the beginning of the trip when we were within a walled area, and when I was afraid to wave to people out of the windows on the trip to Seguin. The beauty of this island continues to astonish; the landscape of each mountain and hill, the curve of the ocean coast, the excitement in all the families’ smiles and words, and the loud laughs of our group through it all bring so much joy to this mountain area where we stay.
Emma Moore~ Today was so much fun! We woke up, and then went to some houses and did tarping and gave out water filters. We made sure each person knew how to use the filters correctly. We played with the children some more and made more friends. I love how we can interact with the Haitians even though we speak different languages. I also love learning Creole and teaching them some English. This trip has been so much fun and this is such a great group to learn and experience new things with! I also really enjoy the food, it’s amazing!
Bearenger Petrella ~ Today was great… we started off by splitting into two groups. We put tarps on houses and brought water filters to people. We were able to explain to people how to use them, and it was great to see them with their new water filters. It was great to see their houses and culture! After that, we stopped and ate lunch, ones we packed ourselves. The groups then went back to the rectory and were greeted by many kids. We were able to play jump rope and soccer. We ate dinner and then sat on the porch. We tell stories and have a few laughs to end the day.